Chernobyl Forest Fire News, Fallout Maps, Wind and Radiation data.
(USE PROXIES if access is slow or interfered with; Reportedly Belarus has banned the virtual private network and the TOR browser, but they may still be worth trying out. See also ‘How To Effectively Evade Government Censorship Of The Internet‘ and ‘Learn to Bypass Internet Censorship in Europe’.)
Note: I excuse myself for this 2nd failure to stick to “Quit Blogging ’till…”)
[NOTE: This blog post became part of a brief journey, a series regarding the Chernobyl Forest Fires, which includes other blog posts with updates and comments you may want to explore further: I suggest you browse through the next several blog posts for further insights and nuance. The update, Chernobyl Forest Fire UPDATE – w/ Final Additions: 150+ Bq/m^3 Cs-137 in air 100 km from Forest Fires on April 29 includes noteworthy data of Cs-content of the smoke clouds.]
Colorado Rocky Mountains (USA) – April 29, 2015 – DISCLAIMER
This blog’s ‘Blog Statistics’ tipped me off that something’s going on in that region again, especially the record views from Belarus:
A quick search showed the blog traffic uptick had nothing to do with troubles at the Zaporizhia NPP, neither with increasing interest in the ongoing radiation releases from the Fukushima Catastrophe Site into the groundwater, nor the likely re-criticality bursts sending Fukushima aerial releases into the atmosphere that spread across the Northern Hemisphere by the jet stream… Nope: Apparently the radiotoxic forests near Chernobyl are ablaze again!
[!-> Added: Radiation Monitors: BELARUS ]
Some news excerpts:
Some early reporting from the (often Pro-Russian propaganda outlet), Sputnik News: “Forest Fire Erupts Dangerously Close to Chernobyl Nuclear Plant” Excerpt screenshot:
- RT has had some decent coverage:
Several hours later [April 29, 2015 16:45] RT relayed: “Fire near Chernobyl site alarming, ‘radiation respects no boundaries’”, excerpt:
“[…] RT: How dangerous is the situation in your opinion? Do you agree with ecologists who say the smoke will spread the radiation John Large: […] It is not the reactor, it is not the location of the reactor that is the problem – it is the dispersal plumes from the original accident – that is the problem. If there are radioactive materials on the ground now and then it’s engulfed by forest fire maybe 40-50 km away from the reactor. But that deposited radioactivity is re-suspended into gas, blown high into the atmosphere by the heat of the flames, and then of course it settles somewhere else. […]” Read full article @ RT: http://rt.com/op-edge/254217-chernobyl-fire-radiation-spread/
!-> Location of Fires ?
In the first RT link‘s video, Ukraine’s coup-installed Prime Minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, says, “First of all, I would like to calm everyone down. Everything is under control. The fire is 23 kilometers away from the plant.”
So? Who cares how far it is from the plant if the smoke is highly radioactive further away too? In various reports the fire was described as “heading towards the plant”, with the wind heading from north to south, so initially I assumed the fire was south of Chernobyl. It’s south of the worst contaminated area, but actually west of Chernobyl, as my afternoon detective work further below revealed. (There are also screenshots of Nullschool wind maps further below.)
So… To see if I can figure out how contaminated the area is in which the fires are raging, I pluck a map from my (2011) Chernobyl versus Fukushima Fallout Map Comparison, and the Map Legend Elaboration, to get an idea of the Cesium fallout deposition in the area south of the plant. The radioactive contamination dispersion is very different from place to place, but what is clear is that these fires are burning véry close to where the contamination was and remains extreme:
I found a higher resolution image ( @ http://mapinmap.ru/archives/tag/белоруссия, and then @ http://mapinmap.ru/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/image80.jpg) of the same data:
Possible radiation levels in these smoke plumes?
!-> Just north of Chernobyl you can see Pripyat, in the above map, in the super-contaminated zone. If you look 20 km south or west of Chernobyl, it looks like the fire might have been (or still is) burning in a zone with a lot of areas in the range, “37,000 to 185,000 Bq/m^2 of Cs-137 “ (estimated surface deposition, 1986) (-> Becquerrel per square meter, see Radiation Units & Conversions for help with that), but there’s also spots and areas with up to 555,000 Bq/m^2, and even more nearby. Since they mention that the fire is in the exclusion zone, levels above 185,000 Bq/m^2 Cs-137 (surface, 1986) is likely the case. !-> Important note: Since almost one half-life has passed for Cs-137, the actual numbers now are about half of those shown on those maps.
So…, this fire is burning in an area that CURRENTLY (spring 2015) has somewhere between roughly 20,000 Bq and 230,000 Bq per square meter in the soil, a fair amount of which has been absorbed in the plant vegetation and is re-released into the atmosphere by this fire.
On April 28th (SOURCE: BBC): “Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said about 400 hectares of forest was alight in the exclusion zone around the plant”.
Do the math: There are 10000 square meters in a hectare. We don’t know how much of the radioisotopes (cesium-137 being just one of many) remains in the soil and how much is sequestered in vegetation, but it’s easy to understand the heightened concerns. These clouds may be containing many thousands of Cs-137 per square meter burned.
The UN has (rather obviously) been covering up the severity of the Chernobyl accident, but these two studies, mentioned in my Jan. 2015 post, !!!-> “Gaging Recent Radiation Spikes: How do the Recent Gamma Upticks Compare to those Observed after Chernobyl?” give some idea of the long-term effects of radioactive fallout:
- http://www.chernobylcongress.org/fileadmin/user_upload/pdfs/chernob_report_2011_en_web.pdf and
Flashback: The radioactive fallout of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster on April 26, 1986 spread with the wind and settled very erratically over vast regions of Europe and beyond, depending on precipitation (map):
Let’s see if we can get a clearer picture of the fire’s location by looking at some of the helicopter footage that was released: !-> VICE NEWS, in there post (April 29, 2015 | 12:00 pm), “Video Shows Raging Wildfire Near Ukraine’s Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant” shared this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4W_3DnRRNYc And in the above video, @ about 13 seconds in, there a super-brief (side-ways) glimpse of a map on which the forest fire is marked. Screenshots, turned upright:
There are some views of the area on fire included in that footage as well. At REUTERS I found some very nice photos (SOURCE: http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/04/29/pictures-report-idUSRTX1ATJZ), and one image in particular looked promising to locate the fire with exactness, through searching on Google maps for such a strongly meandering river 23 km from Chernobyl, looking into what is probably sunset:
Well.. Sure enough, after “flying over the region” in my imaginary online helicopter for a little bit (on Google maps)… I found a bend in the river that when you roughly look into the sunset would give that panorama:
So, clearly, as shown, it is about 23 kilometers west of Chernobyl, but it is only a few kilometers away – if that – from the worst contamination zone, see next two screenshot combinations: Alright, so now that we know where exactly this is happening, a look back at the fallout map…. … shows part of the fire is in a badly contaminated area, right on the edge of the worst of the worst:
Alright, that was a fun little detective puzzle with just a flash of a map and a photo looking into a sunset… . I guess I could have just looked at satellite photos too… My Meteo page needs work… (some day perhaps…); Anyways, I found http://www.flashearth.com quite useful for finding satellite imagery.
What I found through browsing day by day while zoomed in on the same region west of Chernobyl is that forest fires actually occur off and on. Usually they are just a bit smaller, but not necessarily less radioactive. They rarely ever make the news.
So, on a side note: Because they don’t always make the news, there could be a hidden reason why the forest fires made the news this time: perhaps there’s even a hidden (politically motivated) agenda. Given these fires were likely started by arson (fires on both sides of the river, no lightning,…), and – very noteworthy – the amount of attention they were given in the mainstream media (both east and west, which are both highly controlled for perception management purposes),… it could be a whole blog post in itself to wonder about the motives, possibilities of false flag nuclear arson, etc.and so forth. But I’m just going to stick to some basic observations here.
For instance, here’s a satellite image showing (non news-worthy, blowing into the Ukraine…) obvious smoke plumes on April 10, 2015:
!-> Here’s the image for April 28, 2015:
Clearly: The radioactive forest fires are west of Chernobyl and On April 28, they were clearly blowing straight into Belarus. So, location shown in maps is confirmed with this satellite images as well.. There are many other satellite imagery sources, but I’ll look at wind data next anyhow.
What is already clear is that statements a la “radiation levels at the Chenobyl plant” are normal, or unchanged, are completely useless information, as the smoke wasn’t blowing to the plant to begin with. (Radiation levels here in Colorado weren’t particularly elevated either.)
Next: wind, then radiation monitors.
Wind direction has changed…
The wind, they said, is blowing the smoke “towards Minsk, Belarus“… Let’s check on http://earth.nullschool.net/ (one of the tools I use, listed on both my Meteo page, and with various options for checking online radiation monitors at Nuclear -> Radiation Monitors – All.
The first reporting was on April 28, 2015. (See news above – Check Nuclear News Sources for possible additional reporting); I picked 1200 UTC as a time and checked near the surface at 1000 hPa and a bit higher at 850 hPa:
At the beginning of April 29th, you can see that was still correct, both for right above the surface (1000 hPa) and a bit higher (850 hPa), with the smoke blowing into Eastern Belarus, and possibly beyond into Western Russia:
Then, (April 29, 2015, 21:00 UTC), however, the wind has turned, with smoke probably blowing more towards Kiev, with a slight chance of reaching the eastern edges of Romania, before dispersing over the Black Sea:Obviously, this situation can change quickly again.
All the above is just a snapshot in time, to document this. Also keep in mind that these near-surface winds are múch slower than the jet stream. I doubt the jet stream will pick any of this up, as it is just a forest fire, not a super-hot off-gassing nuclear meltdown situation a la Fukushima. That unfortunately also means that the surface cloud itself may be very badly contaminated right there as it crosses into Belarus.
(And please note my Disclaimer: I’m not an expert nor authority in these matters, just really interested in this sort of investigating. If you spot an outright error, please let me know. Data may become outdated quickly, so check sources yourself. Thanks.)
Officially the fire is contained [Ironic Source: The Kiev Post quoting the Wall Street Journal: “http://www.kyivpost.com/content/ukraine-abroad/wall-street-journal-ukraine-fire-halted-near-chernobyl-387402.html“], meaning that while the fire is still burning and sending radioactive clouds into the air, the size of the fire area is not spreading outside boundaries that fire fighters set up to keep it from spreading beyond.
See also, “[…]“The blaze in woodlands, parts of which are still contaminated by radioactive particles from the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, had raised fears of increased radiation as high winds pushed it toward the plant about 20 km (12 miles) away. Yatseniuk, speaking at a government meeting, said: “As of 1245 ([April 29, 2015,] 05:45 EDT) the fires has been localized and contained. The radiation levels are normal.” Emergency services deployed more than 300 firefighters, three planes and one helicopter to tackle the fire which Yatseniuk said was the largest in Ukraine since 1992. […]” [SOURCE: http://jpupdates.com/2015/04/29/forest-fire-near-ukraines-chernobyl-nuclear-zone-under-control/ ]
[“Oh great, so we can all go back to sleep…” The radiation levels… measured where precisely in what unit, medium, compared to when? Did Yatsenyuk fly a plane through the smoke plume and the radioisotope analysis revealed there was nothing in it? ‘Cause if it contained any Cesium-137 and Strontium-90, for instance, it wouldn’t be ‘normal’, ever. Anyways… I’m a bit tired of these lying clowns. / Just my opinion: The current Ukraine government (like its partners in nuclear deception in the EU, Japan, Russia and the US), doesn’t have much credibility when it comes to this issue, though, so all statements they make should be used in satirical skids, rather than believed on blind faith. Last time I recall that everything was “under control”, radiation upticks could be seen in Latvia, and showed up as far as Northern Iceland. Just saying… (See my (Jan. 12, 2015) post, Cover-up of Zaporizhye Nuclear Accident Near-Certain for links to more.) – or my Nuclear Blog Post Archive.
So if you’re in the path of the radioactive smoke, for heaven’s sake, ignore that pro-nuclear Ukrainian government puppet and feel free to freak out. At least a little bit: Enough to realize that insane way to boil water ought to be banned.]
Radiation Monitoring – A Quick Overview & Sampling of Monitors:
- Nullschool Meteo for wind data: http://earth.nullschool.net/ (open in Firefox web browser or similar)
- EURDEP: http://eurdep.jrc.ec.europa.eu/Basic/Pages/Public/Home/Default.aspx (Public Map -> Disclaimer -> data); Very good, albeit suffering from systematic omissions that hide spikes, so essentially unreliable.
- Ukraine (Set up for propaganda purposes, extremely limited data)
- Belarus (Dictatorship with heavy internet censorship. If anyone knows if they have an online radiation monitoring network, please let me know. Tx.)
UPDATE [h/t Vital1 – TX!]: !-> Added: Radiation Monitors: BELARUS
- Russian Federation (in Russian, quite limited)
Other (“independent”) Networks to check include:
- NETC: http://www.netc.com/
- Radmon: http://radmon.org/
- uRadmonintors: http://www.uradmonitor.com/
- SCCC: http://sccc.org.au/international-radiation-monitoring-stations
Findings: A quick sampling of monitors downwind did not show me any obvious abnormalities or suspicious data gaps. If you look around and do find evidence of upticks, please leave a note in comments with the monitor, time and the observed (and a link to a screenshot of a graph showing the abnormality visually if possible).
The area where upticks would be most likely, in Belarus, has no public monitors that I know of.
Some minor upticks seen on a few monitors of http://www.russianatom.ru/ could be related, but their magnitude is not differentiable with natural background radiation variation. Example of a monitor (past 24 hours early April 30 in Russia), between Moscow and Saint Petersburg:
And closer to Saint Petersburg:
Nothing all that unusual dose-wise; hard to tell the cause of these few minor upticks with so little data available. On EURDEP, all I found where some increase in the last few days in Gamma radiation could MAYBE be related were these:
For what it’s worth…
Could be really bad in Belarus, though. ;-(
Hope putting this together was somehow helpful.
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Added after original posting:
- Radiation Monitors: BELARUS [New. Though, Belarus’ monitoring system is rather dismal, with no graphs available.]
- The Flash Earth satellite image-of-the-day runs 48 hours behind: So here on the now-available image for April 29, 2015, you can see that the claim made on April 28 that, “The flames are attacking the forest in the direction of the Chernobyl atomic plant,” Minister of Interior Arsen Avakov wrote on his official Facebook page…” (WSJ) was NOT TRUE on April 28 & 29… . As I documented in detail above, the exact location of the fires was west of the plant and the wind blew due north both days, seen on satellite images and Nullschool.
- Another thing you can also see that, 24 hours in, the smoke plume already appears to be dissipating (with particles likely descending over areas that were already highly contaminated and evacuated). The enormous sudden media attention (with noteworthy lack of specifics!) leaves me with the impression that allegations of this having been some type of PsyOp (politically-motivated psychological operation, in this case fanning the flames of fear – pun intended) may have some ground to it. Anyhow. Just stating the obvious. See also some comments.
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[Last Updated: April 30, 2015 + Note added May 7th]